Friday, September 17, 2021

ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas

Executive Director – Louisville Ballet

Louisville Ballet is one of the oldest continuously operating ballet companies in the country and serves as the official state ballet of Kentucky. Originally founded as a civic ballet in 1952, Louisville Ballet has steadily grown to become one of the nation’s leading regional ballet companies and has worked with some of ballet’s brightest lights, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, and Wendy Whelan, among many others. The company is currently led by Artistic Director Robert Curran who has kept the Company connected to its roots while growing artistic collaborations and awareness of its work on a national and international stage. Find out more about the Company in this fundraising video, Louisville Ballet: Moving Forward and on its website:

The mission of Louisville Ballet – Louisville Ballet makes moving art that respects tradition, encourages innovation, and fosters life-long learning. We inspire connection, conversation, and a profound sense of community, by striving for bold collaborations, by nurturing the next generation of artists, by celebrating diversity, and by creating access for all.


Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky, with a population of approximately 771,000, making it the 16th largest city in the U.S. and an anchor to the larger metropolitan region with a population of nearly 1.3 million people. Beyond iconic brands like KFC and Louisville Slugger, Louisville is frequently recognized as a top food city and continues to grow as a tourist destination centered around the booming bourbon industry. Louisville describes itself as “passionately independent, progressively friendly, and an always welcoming city.” With an historically vibrant and growing arts community, including Actors Theatre Louisville, Louisville Orchestra, StageOne Family Theatre, Kentucky Shakespeare, Kentucky Opera, the Speed Art Museum, and Louisville Ballet among many others, arts and cultural organizations in the Greater Louisville region generate $326 million annually, attracting audiences and attendees from across the state and region. Find out more about Louisville and its arts here:, The Lane Report, Imagine Greater Louisville 2020.


Louisville Ballet’s new Strategic Plan has four core focus areas:

Artistic Innovation

Pre-COVID-19, the annual budget of Louisville Ballet was approximately $4.5-5.0 million. In response to COVID-19, the Ballet canceled all in-person activity for the 2019-2020 Season. During the summer of 2020, the Company pivoted to an all-digital 2020–2021 Season of Illumination. The Company transformed its downtown studio into a film stage to create dance art films and released The Brown- Forman Nutcracker broadcast performance produced in December 2019. Even after the pandemic, this digital stage will enable the Company to deliver more art to those who otherwise would not attend performances and augment stage productions with a deeper experience of the art through digital media.

The Ballet’s upcoming 2021–2022 70th Anniversary Season will deliver five productions: one mixed- repertory program, two full-length ballets, The Brown-Forman Nutcracker with choreography by Val Caniparoli, and Louisville Ballet’s annual Choreographers’ Showcase. Louisville Ballet will also be awarding the inaugural Dysart Award to celebrate young dancemakers on the cusp of their careers and give them important opportunities to be seen by the international dance community.


The Louisville Ballet School is the official training center of Louisville Ballet, committed to the highest level of dance education in the art and artistry of classical ballet with a strong focus on student outcomes. This year, the School celebrates 25 years of providing dance education in the community. The School operates in two locations: within the primary East Main Street studios and at the St.
Matthews Studios, located 15 minutes away in one of Louisville’s east end suburbs. Most classes are taught within the eight studios at the St. Matthews location. The School offers classes from ages 3 months through adult and currently serves over 500 students.


Louisville Ballet is committed to making the artform accessible to the community of Louisville and beyond. Our Community Engagement efforts have three primary objectives: to provide access, to promote inclusion, and to build diversity in the world of dance. Programs provide high-quality dance education experiences throughout Kentucky through in-school residencies, performance assemblies, after-school programs, community workshops, and student matinee performances. Longstanding residencies and partnerships exist in many local schools and social service agencies, including adaptive dance programs for students with and without disabilities. Louisville Ballet Community Engagement Programs reach over 20,000 participants annually.

Ballet Bound is a new Louisville Ballet initiative providing young dancers from across Greater Louisville the opportunity to study classical ballet free of charge in a professional setting. Louisville Ballet believes that children should have access to high quality dance training regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, or socio-economic status. Ballet Bound is designed to build diversity in the world of ballet while serving as a pathway for dancers to The Louisville Ballet School, Louisville Ballet Studio Company, and eventually a career with Louisville Ballet.


Through the inspiring work done with the DeVos Institute and Michael Kaiser, Louisville Ballet continues to recognize that the future of the organization depends on a very specific “virtuous cycle. ”This four- phase cycle includes: creating and delivering exciting and inspiring programs; actively communicating, marketing, and celebrating those programs; building a family of support for these programs; and then calling on the community to invest in these programs.

As momentum builds toward the 70th Anniversary Season, Louisville Ballet has the opportunity to capitalize on a sense of civic pride, and an appreciation for what the arts and culture sector brings to the community, giving an opportunity to grow, expand, and inspire both connection to and investment in Louisville Ballet.

The next Executive Director will join an organization with a strong reputation and credibility based on its legacy of hard-earned artistic bona fides. Among the opportunities are:

  • Aligning, strengthening, and further integrating the Ballet’s position in a rich performing arts environment and building on the leadership role that the Ballet currently holds in the city.
  • Furthering existing partnerships and building new collaborations locally, regionally, and nationally.
  • Expanding the school, adaptive dance programs, and community engagement.
  • Diversifying audiences while bringing long-time, dedicated patrons into all future programmatic activities.
  • Continuing the Ballet’s leadership in new work development, with the potential for new and expanded new partnerships in co-production.

Along with these opportunities, there are notable challenges that the next ED must embrace:

  • Developing new and expanded revenue streams, with an emphasis on contributions from individual donors
  • Managing cash and debt. Short-term debt is approximately $466,000 and scheduled to be paid off over the next two years and long-term debt is $1.35 million (primarily mortgage debt). The current cash position is positive and the approved budget for the 2021-2022 season is $4.2 million.
  • Finding the right balance of programming (size, scale, and number of productions) vis-à-vis resources.


Robert Curran, Artistic Director
Trained at The Australian Ballet School and having enjoyed a thrilling and fulfilling career with The Australian Ballet as a Principal Artist, Robert Curran took the passion and discipline he developed as a dancer and set his sights on diversifying his knowledge, skills, and abilities. Appointed Artistic Director of Louisville Ballet in 2014, Robert continues to contribute to the global arts community, enriching his knowledge of the art form to which he has devoted his life. He is excited by, and committed to, the Louisville community with its abundant respect for the arts and its exciting perspective on the future.

Board of Directors
Louisville Ballet is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 32 business and community leaders. Ralph de Chabert, SVP, Chief Diversity Inclusion and Global Community Relations Officer for Brown- Forman, currently serves as Board President.


The Louisville Ballet building is located in downtown Louisville on East Main Street. The award-winning facility is a modern, warehouse-inspired building built in 1995, including two large studios with sprung floors, administrative offices and costume shop storage. Sets and production shops reside in an onsite warehouse. The majority of Louisville Ballet’s performances occur at Kentucky Performing Arts’ Brown Theatre, a 1,400-seat venue built in 1925, with the Brown-Forman Nutcracker continuing at Kentucky Performing Arts’ Whitney Hall, a 2,377-seat multi-purpose facility. The Ballet is one of several resident companies of Kentucky Performing Arts, including Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera, and Broadway Across America – Louisville.


Louisville Ballet is fully committed to fostering the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This commitment encompasses every aspect of programming and services. Louisville Ballet embraces all groups, communities, and individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, age, or disability status.


The Executive Director will work in a co-CEO relationship with the Artistic Director with both positions reporting to the Board. It is, of course, critically important that the individuals in these two positions work in a cohesive and productive manner. The central roles of the Executive Director are as follows:

  • Build a deep partnership with the Artistic Director and Board to implement the Company’s current strategic plan and develop future five-year strategies.
  • In concert with the Artistic Director, work to create synergy and strong collaboration across the organization.
  • Serve as the primary major gifts officer, leading fundraising activities in a strategic and hands-on manner, developing relationships throughout the region, expanding annual contributed revenues, and raising capital funds.
  • Expand on successful communication strategies and guide the marketing, external messaging, and outreach of Louisville Ballet with a focus on increasing ticket sales.
  • Forge and maintain important external relationships in the Louisville community and act as an external voice and advocate of Louisville Ballet.
  • Forge strong relationships with and work actively to continue to build Louisville Ballet’s Board of Directors.
  • Establish, develop, and maintain national and international relationships with funders and presenters to increase financial resources and to expose Louisville Ballet to a wider audience.
  • Align all human and financial resources (including cash flow, budget, and financial systems) in a way that can sustainably realize the strategic and artistic vision for the Company.
  • Manage direct reports, which include the Directors of Development, Marketing, Education, Finance, the Executive Assistant, and any other positions that may fall under the administrative functions of the Company.


The chosen candidate will be someone who is likely to establish strong and productive working partnerships with the Artistic Director and the Board; of course, prior experience with such partnerships would be deemed useful. They will also have the following skill sets and experience:

  • Strong passion for building a great cultural institution that can grow significantly with the community.
  • Demonstrated success in personally securing philanthropic support in a not-for-profit arts environment.
  • Detail oriented and methodical about organizational routines and processes.
  • A successful management career within the professional performing arts. Dance experience is not required, but serious candidates will have demonstrated enthusiasm for arts and culture.
  • Strong experience in and knowledge of the ramifications of artistic and budgetary decisions and the need to align them strategically.
  • Demonstrated ability to motivate and lead a team focused on long-term objectives.
  • A collaborative, non-political style to work within a partnership and engage staff, Board, and key donors.
  • A tenacity and drive to help Louisville Ballet continue to produce at a consistently high level.
  • Strong social and interpersonal skills in multiple social and business contexts.


The search for the Executive Director is headed by a committee, chaired by Ellen Shapira, consisting of four Board members and a trusted advisor. The committee’s desire is to identify a candidate by Fall of 2021 with the new Executive Director on site as soon as possible thereafter. The salary will be competitive with other companies of comparable stature and size with benefits including health, dental, vision, and life insurance policies as well as paid vacation/holidays.

Shruti Adhar and David Mallette are the MCA consultants who will facilitate this search. Interested candidates are invited to confidentially send a resumé, cover letter, and at least three professional references (name, work relationship, email, phone). All materials must be in.pdf (preferred) or Word format with the applicant’s name included as part of the document file name and submitted through the MCA application portal for this search:

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